LIVE FUTURES REPORT 13/12: SHFE base metals prices rangebound while investors await direction

Base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were on divergent paths but largely little changed at the close of the morning trading session on Friday December 13.

The complex was split into two camps with the most-traded February copper contract (+0.3%), the February aluminium contract (+0.4%) and the February zinc contract (+0.3%) edging higher, while the January lead contract (-0.2%), the February nickel contract (-0.1%) and the January tin contract (-0.5%) weakened.

The mixed movements come amid cautious optimism in the market following reports that United States and Chinese negotiators have agreed in principle to an initial “phase one” trade deal, but with a formal deal yet to be formally announced, investors appear to be adopting a wait-and-see stance until one is made.

In China, the conclusion of a meeting between the country’s top policymakers on Thursday provided sparse details for investors to work with – economic targets for 2020, including gross domestic product (GDP) growth and inflation, are only due to be released in March.

China’s economy expanded slower in 2019, as GDP growth fell from 6.4% year on year in the first quarter to 6% in the third, while it registered 6.6% annual growth in 2018.

In terms of the base metals traded on the SHFE, tin was the worst performer of its peers while it seemingly reacts to its weaker fundamentals of late. The most-traded January tin contract slid to 140,060 yuan ($19,923) per tonne as at 11.30am Shanghai time, down by 650 yuan per tonne from Thursday’s close of 140,710 yuan per tonne.

“The latest figures from the World Bureau of Metal Statistics suggest the underlying fundamentals have softened after the refined tin market recorded a 400-tonne surplus in September, reducing the overall deficit to 4,100 tonnes in January-September 2019,” Fastmarkets’ analyst James Moore said.

Other highlights

  • The dollar index continues to weaken; it was up by 0.04% at 96.76 as at 10.39am Shanghai time compared with 97.04 at a similar time on Thursday.
  • It is a fairly light day for data with US retail sales and import prices of note. The UK’s Conference Board leading index is also scheduled.